In the early 2000s, the state of South Carolina established a program called The SmartState™ to create Centers for Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina’s economy. The Center for Multifunctional Materials and Structures (MFMS) is one of these centers whose primary research focus is in linking design with materials, manufacturing, analysis, and testing to satisfy various functions imposed on structures and systems by mono-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary domains. All research at MFMS is aimed for industrial application, even in cases where the research is mostly curiosity based. The goal of MFMS is to deliver a steady stream of research output and high-quality research graduates to the industry to fuel and support innovation and economic development in SC in the field of advanced multifunctional materials and structures.
The mission of the SmartState Center for Multifunctional Materials and Structures is to deliver a steady stream of research output and high-quality research graduates to the industry to fuel and support innovation and economic development in South Carolina in the field of advanced multifunctional materials and structures.
In the world of structural design there are three primary ingredients to develop a structure: constitute materials the structure will be comprised of, manufacturing and assembly of the constitute materials to produce parts and connections, and design of the structure to meet functional requirements.
Materials MFMS primarily researches are thermoplastic composites, but does not exclude thermosets, ceramics, metals, or any other material-based solutions to satisfy multifunctional requirements. Through characterization from testing and analysis, the behavior of materials are researched such that they may be engineered to fulfill multifunctional requirements at both the material and structural levels, respectively.
Not only are materials behavior researched at MFMS, but also manufacturing strategies to design and use the materials to produce multifunctional structures. Manufacturing research at MFMS is primarily focused on composite manufacturing technologies, specifically within the fields of additive manufacturing, fusion bonding of thermoplastic composites, automated fiber placement of thermoplastic composites, and vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM). From understanding material behavior and development of predictive models, analysis tools/instruments are developed to establish process parameters for manufacturing of multifunctional materials and structures and stay competitive with series production for industrial applications.
Design at MFMS is focused on design methodologies and analysis tools for multifunctional materials and structures, Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO), Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE), and Design for Manufacturing (DFM).